Chris Benoit's Murder, Suicide: Was Brain Damage To Blame?

Chris Benoits Murder, Suicide: Was Brain Damage To Blame?
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A powerhouse in the ring, Chris Benoit was a world-famous wrestler and champion to his fans, loved by all. No one ever suspected he would be capable of murdering his family and taking his own life.

"He was pretty much driven from the age of 12, 13 to get in the wrestling industry," said his father, Mike Benoit. "Chris lifted weights every day. He was 13 years old ... he was breaking records in high school in our basement."

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After Canadian-born Chris Benoit became a pro-wrestler at 18, his career soon skyrocketed. By age 25, he was already a world champion.

"He had won titles every place that he traveled in the world," said Mike Benoit.

While living the wrestling high life, Chris Benoit was a devoted dad and husband who cherished time with his family.

"What you saw in the ring was not the Chris Benoit on the outside," his father said. "He loved to be at home, playing with his children. That's where he wanted to be."

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The Benoit Family Murders

On June 25, 2007, an unimaginable horror was discovered inside of Chris Benoit's home in Fayetteville, Ga., when police stopped by on a "welfare check" after Benoit had missed several appointments, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Officers found his wife Nancy strangled to death and their 7-year-old son Daniel appeared to have been suffocated. Bibles were found next to their bodies. Benoit's body was found hanging from a weight machine in the basement.

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"We're ruling it as a double homicide-suicide," said Fayette County Sheriff's Lt. Tommy Pope.

After seizing Benoit's computer, investigators also reported that the wrestler had searched the Internet for stories on the prophet Elijah. One of the stories of Elijah is how the prophet could raise a boy from the dead, starting with placing the dead child on his bed. Police found young Daniel on his bed.

Chris Benoit's Brain Battered

The violent deaths of the Benoit family shocked and confused everyone who knew him, especially his father.

"The next three to four days were an absolute nightmare," Mike Benoit recalled. "Watched TV 24 hours a day, waiting for someone to say something nice about my son. It wasn't happening. Everything was bad."

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He was dead at age 40 and on the top of the world in his career, and Benoit's loved ones couldn't make sense of what would drive him to murder the family he cared for so much.

After hearing about the Benoit case, several researchers at the Sports Legacy Institute were eager to look at his brain. Dr. Julian Bailes, now with West Viriginia University's Health and Science Center, had been studying the brains of deceased pro-football players, and became interested in Benoit's case.

"We can only say that he had very similar changes and he had neuro-behavioral syndrome that was very similar to what we saw in others," Bailes said.

Like pro-football players who take many hits to the head, which can often lead to concussions, Mike Benoit said his son had suffered chronic blows to the head over the course of his 22 years as a wrestler -- including the six and a half years he worked for the WWE.

"Cables, ladders, chairs ... the props they were using when they were getting hit in the head. It's a real chair, it's a steel chair," Mike Benoit said.

Chris Benoit's Death and 'Roid Rage' Rumors

A media frenzy exploded in 2007 when a toxicology report showed Benoit tested positive for steroids.

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